Hypoxic gene activation by lipopolysaccharide in macrophages: implication of hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha

Blood. 2004 Feb 1;103(3):1124-30. doi: 10.1182/blood-2003-07-2427. Epub 2003 Oct 2.


Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) regulates many genes induced by low oxygen conditions. The expression of important hypoxic genes such as glucose transporter 1 and vascular endothelial growth factor are increased in macrophages during wound healing and in the presence of the endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Recent studies have demonstrated that nonhypoxic stimuli can also activate HIF-1 in a cell-specific manner. Here, we demonstrate that in macrophages, LPS can control the activation of hypoxia-regulated genes through the HIF-1 pathway. We show that in these cells, protein expression levels of HIF-1alpha are strongly increased to levels comparable to hypoxic induction. HIF-1alpha mRNA levels are markedly increased following LPS stimulation, suggesting a transcriptional induction. In functional studies, the LPS-induced HIF-1 complex could specifically bind to the HIF-1 DNA-binding motif. Additionally, when cells were transfected with an HIF-1-specific reporter construct, LPS could strongly activate the expression of the reporter to levels that surpassed those observed after hypoxic induction. This induction was blocked by the cotransfection of a dominant-negative form of HIF-1alpha. These results indicate that the HIF-1 complex is involved in macrophage gene activation following LPS exposure and identify a novel pathway that could play a determinant role during inflammation and wound healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Hypoxia / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Transfection


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C